A recent article in Fortune asks if St. Louis can become the next tech hub. At Hatchbuck, we certainly think so, and being fresh back from visiting an area that has exploded on the tech scene, Denver and Boulder, I can’t help but draw the parallels.

The city of St. Louis and the surrounding region has continued to build up a vibrant startup community over the past decade. Today we have the same catalysts in place that helped launch Colorado’s thriving startup success.

Supporters in the Denver and Boulder region who are invested in helping startups and the economy grow are big contributors to Colorado’s success. In a 2013 startup report, 151 Colorado startups were launched, and 122 additional companies raised $461 million in funding. What is perhaps most notable is that of the $461 million in funding, only $9 million was raised by companies outside of Colorado.

The local presence of Brad Feld’s venture capital firm, Foundry Group, the Techstars accelerator which Feld founded, as well as the Galvanize incubator, are among the pillars that fuel Colorado’s digital ecosystem.

Our team had the opportunity to visit Galvanize, where we soaked up the same excitement and buzz that is being generated in T-REX, the tech incubator that Hatchbuck calls home. You could feel the innovation catching on through the osmosis that occurs when ideas, capital, and vision come together in the same place.

St. Louis has its own homegrown support system, including accelerators like Capital Innovators, Arch Angels, Arch Grants, VCs like Cultivation Capital as well as T-REX.  These local resources have been integral to building St. Louis’s startup culture.

Another factor that has helped Colorado keep it local is the state’s ability to attract millennials. In Denver, we also visited Innovation Pavilion, a tech incubator that focuses on fast-tracking high school and university students into tech careers, filling the talent gap.

Here in St. Louis, the 2000s have brought encouraging growth, netting a 35% increase of those in the 25-30 age range. Like Denver, we are also making strides in developing talent locally, perhaps most notably through Jim McKelvey’s Launch Code program, which pairs up aspiring coders with experienced developers.

What coastal hubs like Silicon Valley and New York have, and what Denver and Boulder have managed to capture is what St. Louis needs to continue building – a strong presence of local resources. As St. Louis receives more attention from the coasts and continues to invest in our own startup ecosystem, we’re going to see a snowball effect that will further catalyze startup growth.

 

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Data from the St. Louis RCGA 2014 St. Louis Startup & Capital Report

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